A host of data firms with whizzy methods are helping them divine it
FROM A SMALL office in Montreal an artificial-intelligence business, Aquantix, plays sleuth for faraway investors worried about water risk. Its model combines high-resolution satellite imagery, weather-station data and regulatory documents scraped from the internet. It estimates not only how much water a business uses at its various sites but its water bill, the chances of drought or flooding in surrounding areas and the financial impact such disasters could have-all without contacting the company in question.
Firms like Aquantix are proving useful to investors waking up to water risk. At current rates of consumption, the demand for water worldwide will be 40% greater than its supply by 2030, according to the UN. Portfolio managers are realising that physical, reputational and regulatory water risk could hurt their investments, particularly in thirsty industries such as food, mining, textiles and utilities.